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Going on Holiday with kids

Pack your bags, grit your teeth, go out and have some quality fun with the kids

caravan next to a lake in the mountains

Deciding to go away for a holiday as a single dad is something that many of you will no doubt embark upon at sometime. If you were in a relationship previously and had family holidays then you already know what it’s like going away with kids. Not the same level of romance as when it was just you and your partner, but rewarding in other ways. Holidays create great memories and stories that stay with you your entire life. Unless you get dementia and forget all about them I guess. The amount of planning and decisions you have to make when taking kids away is always easier, when just like all parenting, another is there to halve the load that the situation involves. But let’s look at holidaying specifically as a single dad and how best to manage the situation.

father and son at airport

Initial Plan

First is deciding what type of holiday experience you want. It might be camping, beach holiday, local, overseas, theme park or even just to visit relatives. Where you go is usually the first decision you’ll make. Involving the kids as to what experiences they want is also a nice idea. Regardless, the initial planning stages are the same.

When you’re going is the first big consideration. Whether you’ll just go in school holidays, or pull the kids out for some or all of it. The cost can vary greatly when holidays kick in. I looked at taking the kids away to some exotic resort for a week a few years back.

The week before the school holidays, the trip was around $3500, but as soon as the last Friday of school hit, the same trip jumped to nearly $8000. It’s a no brainer in this case to take the kids out of school, especially if it’s the end of term and all assessments are finished.

man playing with toddler on the beach

Life Experiences

The life experiences children get from travelling and holidays you can’t always put a price on, and if it’s only for a week, trust me, it’s not going to destroy your children’s academic ability, Covid showed us that. Even taking kids out mid term won’t necessarily have a big impact on them, although I would recommend considering assessments that could be missed particularly for those kids in their final years of schooling. Some schools frown upon taking kids out for holidays so just say you have to visit a sick relative and they won’t question it.

I’m sure the basics of booking flights etc is straightforward, but make sure you book accomodation that is child friendly as you’ll find the experience that bit more comfortable.

Also do a bit of research around insurance. Last trip away I spent a few hundred dollars on travel insurance only to find my credit card and bank already covered me.

young children putting up a beach umbrella


It’s worth making a list of every single expense you might expect on a holiday, to see if it fits with your budget. If it’s a long journey or overseas this list should include:

  • Flights

  • Transfer to Airport or cost of petrol/airport parking if driving self

  • Food and drink at airport

  • Transfer from airport to accomodation

  • Car hire (if necessary) or cost of transport system where you’re going

  • Accommodation (cost of early check in or late check out if you arrive or leave during unsociable hours)

  • Cost of food whilst away for all of you. Are you eating out for every meal or preparing food at the accommodation

  • Travel insurance

  • Spending money

  • Cost of entrance for any sights or activities you intend to go on.

  • Cost of having any pets looked after

  • Cost of using mobile phone overseas if applicable. Sometimes it’s better to buy a sim card at your destination

man carrying suitcases


Assuming this all fits within your budget the next stage is to make a list to pack. Personally I like to use an app to keep track of this rather than I sheet of paper I’ll probably lose. Try to pack light, as younger kids probably won’t be carrying suitcases.

The obvious things like passport, tickets, money, phone chargers I’m sure you’ll be fine with but there’ll be many extra things you find you’ll need when travelling with kids like medicine.

I suggest always having a bunch of paracetamol, ibuprofen, cough mixture, nasal decongestant and band aids, with you when travelling. I’ve been caught out a number of times and it’s not fun. Have an emergency plan, like where the nearest hospital is and what your travel insurance includes.

Some snacks like muesli bars and lollies to suck on are a must, as are bottles of water. Card games and activities are also great if you have little ones unless you are happy for them to be screen addicts the whole time.

inside passenger airplane

It’s a Long Way From Home

On a long haul journey or flight (with smaller kids) make up some activities in paper bags. Make two or three seperate bags of 'activities' to dish out at different times throughout the journey to give them something fresh to regain their interest. These bags can include lollies, paper, sticker books, crayons, little puzzles or toys from cheap shops, a small book. It helps to have something different to do instead of constantly staring at an iPad or screen of some kind. Whilst there is a time for screen activities it shouldn’t be the only source of entertainment they have access to.

If you are taking kids overseas, it can be quite daunting for them especially if it’s somewhere with different cultures and language. Make a bunch of small cards with phone numbers and the place where you’ll be staying to put in your kids’ pockets or bags in case you get separated (parent’s worst nightmare).

Make sure when you arrive at somewhere like a big airport or an attraction like a theme park, you talk to them about what to do if they get separated, who they should ask for help and where a good meeting point is.

Planning is key when travelling with kids. Backpacking and traveling on your own in your 20s might have allowed you to make split decisions and change plans on a whim. Turning up somewhere with nowhere to stay is sometimes part of the experience. This isn’t the case when you have little people you have to manage. There’s gonna be an ‘I’m thirsty, bored, hungry or need the toilet’ at inconvenient times and the more prepared you are for this, the less likely you are to lose your cool and never go on holiday with kids again.

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